If you move into a smaller home by yourself, that alone can be a challenging adjustment. But raising a family in a small home? That requires patience, healthy levels of open communication and ongoing efforts to ensure your home remains a place of peace.
Easier said than done.
If your family is learning to make it work in a small space, the best advice will come from the people who have been there before. Below are three tips from small home-dwellers on what it takes to maintain relationships, raise children and even invite pets into your cozy home.
Communication is Crucial to Making Everyone Comfortable
When a family shares a smaller space, there are so many more instances where a game of give-and-take plays out between two people. We all need a bit of privacy or room to spread out from time to time, and so the key is to be able to communicate those needs to other family members — and help them find ways to accommodate.
“We’re figuring out how to compromise more, even if it’s just, ‘I’m going to the bathroom now and you can go after me,'” says Laura Baird, whose family of five (plus three cats and a hamster) moved into a 440-square-foot cabin on wheels. “It’s not as convenient as having a big house where each kid can have their own room, but it’s not necessarily a good thing that everything’s convenient.”
In fact, the profile of the Baird family at OffGridQuest.com shows the kids are finding ways to make it work (“Every room has at least one cat in it,” 8-year-old Jessica Baird says).
Of course, adults tend to be better than children at being able to express their needs (though not always). As a parent, it’s up to you to teach your children how to healthily express what they need, as well. Laura says that’s a work in progress with her three children, who are “learning how to talk to us and to each other about what they want and if something’s not working.”
Clutter-Free Must Always Be the Goal
“It is much easier to love a space no matter what size it is if it is clean and clutter free,” Emily Wilson writes at her Queen of the Household blog.
“For instance, if my kitchen sink is full of dirty dishes, the counter hasn’t been wiped down from lunch, and there are papers and empty containers scattered across my kitchen counter, I am likely to dread getting supper ready. I may even think to myself that our kitchen is just too small to prepare a meal in.
“But when I make sure the dirty dishes are put directly into the dishwasher and the counter gets cleaned off on a daily basis, I realize that there is enough space in my kitchen to make supper for my family.”
Removing clutter is one of the best ways to reclaim usable space in your home. If getting to clutter-free is an ongoing challenge for your family, have a look at our Clutter Busting Tups & Tricks for ideas on getting started.
Tired Dogs Are Happy Dogs
People moving into smaller apartments or houses might think their new spaces cannot accommodate pets — bigger dogs, especially — but this isn’t necessarily the case.
That’s why it’s not uncommon to see bigger dogs in New York City.
“When I first moved to the city and saw great danes and mastiffs living here, I was under the assumption that the people who owned the dog must have a large living space,” Christopher Turi, owner of Bark Ave Dog Walkers, tells Brick Underground. “After walking a few 100 pound-plus dogs, I discovered they turned out to be fairly tranquil, thus even a small living space was perfectly acceptable for them.”
The key to keeping dogs happy in a small home is to give them plenty of opportunities to get outside and run.
“Like humans, dogs are social animals and can’t be cooped up inside all day,” Alyssa Alimurung writes at 6sqft. “They need exercise and to be stimulated in an environment outside of the home or they can become anxious.”
Otherwise, bad habits such as barking indoors and chewing on furniture manifest. So make sure you’re giving your dog plenty of time to get outside.
Families keeping close quarters, we would love to hear from you! What lessons have you learned from sharing a small home?
And if one of those lessons is that external storage can be helpful, we know some good people in the storage business. Wink. Wink.